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Dear Flying Friends of Gordon Baxter,
I just learned from my brother in Texas that Gordon Baxter has died at the age of 81. Here is the article that appeared in the 6/12/05 edition of the Beaumont (Texas) Enterprise:
06/12/2005 Farewell to the man called Bax By ROLANDO GARCIAThe Enterprise
Gordon Baxter Jr., a legendary Southeast Texas radio personality and author, died Saturday. He was 81.
Baxter had been in declining health and was suffering from respiratory problems, said his son, Jim Baxter.
Baxter's penchant for speaking his mind got him fired frequently, and he bounced between local radio stations during his 50-year broadcasting career. But he kept a loyal following.
A self-styled storyteller, Baxter also wrote a popular column for a national aviation magazine -- he was an amateur pilot -- and authored 13 books.
"He was the most alive man I ever knew," said Diane Baxter, his wife.
Baxter was born on Christmas Day in Port Arthur. After a stint in the Merchant Marines during World War II, he got his first radio job in 1945 at KPAC radio, according to Beaumont Enterprise archives.
There, he earned the enmity of local unions for speaking out against the violence that had erupted during a labor strike.
He waded into political controversy again in the 1960s when he wrote a book defending American policy in Vietnam at a time when the war was growing unpopular. "(Baxter) never backed down and didn't care whether people agreed with him or not," Jim Baxter said.
A devoted audience and a knack for seamlessly weaving advertising into his show ensured that whenever one station let him go, another would snatch him up.
After getting the pink slip from KLVI in 1977, Baxter said he was fired "for the same reason they hired me. I'm Gordon Baxter, and there's no cure for that,"according to Enterprise archives.
Whether he was reporting from the site of the 1948 Texas City explosion or the Apollo space launch or from Vietnam, Baxter focused on the human side of stories in a way that resonated with Southeast Texans, Jim Baxter said.
Even his family life was a frequent on-air topic. Baxter would broadcast live from his living room on Christmas while his children opened presents one at a time on the air.
Baxter's other passion was flying. For 30 years, he wrote the "Bax Seat" column in Flying magazine.
His writing, which ranged from the romance of flight to life at small airports, made him a beloved figure in the aviation community, Jim Baxter said.
At Baxter's 80th birthday bash, retired astronaut Greg Harbaugh praised Baxter for inspiring a generation of pilots.
He will be inducted later this year into the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame, Jim Baxter said.
Baxter is survived by nine children, eight from a previous marriage that ended in divorce and one from his 32-year marriage with Diane.
Fly in PEACE.. BAX - Bill Lambright, Greenville, SC
Common sense should always come first.
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